Monday, July 23, 2007

Millannial Challenge: When will African Union Parliament get reports on Good Governance for Africa? Here is the proxy report

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity- www.globalbelai4u.blogspot.com

Dear Patriotic Global Citizens and Friends of Ethiopia:

The State Department Human Rights point man- Barry F. Lowenkron, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy has submitted his report to the Senate about progress of democratic governance in Africa.

I wish Aftican Governments would do the same to the African Union Parliament. However, until such time, the African Unon Parliament makes each state accountable to its people, the nearest we have the proxy one that is currently presented at the US Congress & Senate.

The part of his speech on Ethiopia is summarized earlier in the attachment, and I have left the full report for your review.

Please read and reflect how and when the African Union Parliament will make the African Governments accountable on Good Governance and if you have concerns about the content, do not hesitate to share with us your concern and more importantly write to the Congress men and women and the State Department team. This is what is referred to democracy in action.

with regards

Dr B of GSE for PP


Excerpted from the testimony below:

"The run-up to Ethiopia's May 2005 elections was a
time of unprecedented democratic openness, with the
ruling party agreeing to a series of key electoral
reforms, and robust civil society engagement on
matters of voter education and mobilization.

However, the expulsion of the National Democratic Institute,
the International Republican Institute and the
International Foundation for Electoral Systems six
weeks before Election Day created an atmosphere heavy
with suspicion. The expulsions put a halt to valuable
training programs for members of civil society,
electoral commission staff and political party leaders
aimed at increasing confidence in the electoral
process.

Election Day was, for the most part, orderly and
peaceful. Yet, in the days and months following the
elections as rumors of malfeasance grew regarding the
election results, the Ethiopian government responded
to street protests with lethal force and illegally
detained opposition leaders and tens of thousands of
their supporters.

Among those detained was journalist
Serkalem Fasil, the recipient of a Courage in
Journalism Award, who was arrested along with thirteen
other reporters after publishing articles critical of
the Ethiopian government. Fasil gave birth in jail to
a son, who was premature and underweight due to
inhumane conditions and lack of proper medical
attention. She was released from prison in April, but
is now threatened with re-arrest. If she is found
guilty on charges of treason, outrages against the
constitution and incitement to armed conspiracy, she
could face the death penalty.

Shortly after I arrived in DRL, I began receiving
letters from concerned Members of Congress and the
former colleagues of the jailed Ethiopian democracy
advocates and journalists, many of whom have had
distinguished careers here in the United States and
relatives who are United States citizens. Later, when
I traveled to Addis Ababa, I raised the issue with
Prime Minister Meles and met with the families of the
imprisoned.

The government has embraced some new reforms,
including revising parliamentary rules of procedure to
allow for an increased voice for the opposition. But
to this day, the crackdown casts a shadow over the
Ethiopian government, though Prime Minister Meles
announced yesterday that he plans to recommend
clemency for the opposition leaders found guilty on
June 11 and sentenced to life imprisonment."

===============================================
SEE COMPLETE TRASCRIPT OF THE TESTIMONY BELOW
================================================

http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/rm/2007/88617.htm

U.S. DEPARTMENT of STATE


Democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa

Barry F. Lowenkron, Assistant Secretary of State for
Democracy

Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations
Subcommittee on African Affairs
Washington, DC

July 17, 2007

As prepared for delivery

Chairman Feingold and Members of the Committee, thank
you for holding this hearing on democracy in
Sub-Saharan Africa. I deeply appreciate the
Subcommittee's strong interest in this vast, varied
and vibrant region.

The Bush Administration has put in place dynamic
policies and programs that demonstrate the American
people's generous commitment to Africa. And I have
worked with my counterpart and with the officers of
the Africa Bureau at the State Department to implement
that commitment.

Mr. Chairman, as President Bush has said, "At a time
when freedom is on the march around the world, it is
vital that the continent of Africa be a place of
democracy, prosperity and hope."

I am sure that my USAID colleague Michael Hess will
agree that the advancement of human rights and
democratic principles is integral, indeed crucial, to
stability and development in the region. The United
States is committed to forging partnerships with
democracies across Africa that seek to build a
continent where there is peace, where there is
prosperity, and where the rights of all men and women
are protected.

Mr. Chairman, this will be my last testimony to
Congress before I retire from the Federal Government
after 31 years of public service. I began my
government career at the same time the Bureau I now
head was created on the initiative of Congress.

During the three decades of the Bureau's existence, every
Administration, and each of my predecessors, has been
able to count on the bipartisan backing of the
Congress. Your support has immeasurably strengthened
our capacity to defend courageous men and women around
the globe who work, against great odds and at great
risk, to advance the cause of freedom.

Promoting democracy and human rights in Africa has
been one of my top priorities during the 2 years I
have served as Assistant Secretary. I have no doubt
that my Bureau's engagement on these issues will be a
priority for my successor as well, for it remains a
priority for President Bush and Secretary Rice.

As I prepare to depart the Bureau, I take satisfaction
in knowing that I will leave behind a talented,
dedicated and strong Africa team to carry on this
important work. I am proud to say that we have
quadrupled the number of personnel working on Africa
issues and we also now have a separate position
devoted to enhancing our cooperation with the African
Union.

Mr. Chairman, in every region of the world--not least
in Africa--increasing numbers of men and women are
pressing for their rights to be respected and their
governments to be responsive, for their voices to be
heard and their votes to count, for just laws and
equal justice for all. Indeed, as Secretary Rice has
noted: "in recent years in Africa, we have seen a
democratic transformation sweep the continent."

Africa today is home to several strong, multiparty
democracies. South Africa, Botswana, Ghana and Mali
serve as models for the continent by virtue of their
free and fair elections, their robust civil societies,
and their respect for the rule of law.

Indeed, Mali will host the next ministerial meeting of the
worldwide Community of Democracies in November. It is
apt that Mali has chosen as a major focus of the
meeting the close interrelationship between democracy
and development, underscoring that democracy and
development must go hand-in-hand, if both efforts are
to succeed.

Despite these positive trends, Africa also bears
witness to serious human rights abuses that demand our
active attention. In Sudan, Zimbabwe, Eritrea and
Chad, governments trample basic civil and political
freedoms, violating the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights and the African Union's own
Charter on Democracy.

The role models and the reprobates stand out. The
rest, and they constitute the majority of African
countries, struggle somewhere in between. That should
come as no surprise.

In Africa, as in other regions of the world, gains for human rights and democracy are
hard won and challenging to sustain. Even when
democratic systems of government have been
established, they take time to deliver on the promise
they hold of a better life for ordinary citizens.
Democratic systems with shallow institutional roots or
scarce resources can fall far short of meeting their
commitments to citizens. Steps forward can be marred
with irregularities.

Countries where rulers are insufficiently committed to reform can revert to
authoritarian habits. Democratic transitions can be
tumultuous and wrenching. Unbridled corruption can
retard democratic development, distort judicial
processes and destroy public trust. Insecurity due to
internal or cross-border conflict can threaten
advances made for human rights and democratic
government.

Progress is seldom linear. That is why, when I meet
with Secretary Rice, the question that comes up the
most is: "What is the trajectory?" Is the country more
responsive to its citizens? Is a culture of just laws
taking root? Some countries may remain fragile for
quite some time. Others may backslide.

We do not underestimate the challenges that reformers
face in building democratic governance amidst the
conditions of poverty, ethnic tension, and weak
government institutions prevalent still in much of
Africa.

Africans are engaged today in trying to simultaneously build their democracies and also their economies, infrastructure and national identities. But
even as we acknowledge and account for these
challenges, we and the millions of Africans who
support democratic reform cannot let those who feel
threatened by change use those challenges as an excuse
for continued authoritarian rule. Democracy supported
by visionary leaders must be a central part of the
solution to the continent's other challenges.

A sustained commitment on our part and that of other
democracies in the region and across the international
community also is required. We fully recognize,
however, that democracy promotion is not chemistry.
You cannot concoct democracy using a formula. Three
interrelated elements are, however, essential to any
democracy. One element, of course, is elections.

Democratic elections are one of the important
milestones on the long journey of democratization. But
a free election is not a fair election if in the
run-up to Election Day the playing field is not level
because the political process is manipulated and basic
rights are undermined.

A second element must be present for democracy to work: good governance,
including the rule of law. And the third essential
element in a democracy is a robust civil society that
can keep government honest, keep citizens engaged and
keep democracy-building on track. In a fully
functioning democracy anywhere in the world, all three
elements must be present: electoral, institutional and
societal.

Let me now illustrate each of democracy's three
essential elements in the context of Sub-Saharan
Africa.

First, elections: Democratic elections can help put a
country on the path to reform and lay the groundwork
for institutionalizing human rights protections and
good governance. Africa's record on free and fair
elections is mixed. The good news is that the vast
majority of Africans have embraced the concept of
elections as a mechanism for determining the course
that their countries will take.

A number of elections have taken place recently that
give rise to cautious optimism.

After years of civil war that destroyed the country's
infrastructure, Liberia conducted an historic election
in November 2005 that led to the selection of Africa's
first elected female head of state. Many Members of
this body heard President Sirleaf's inspirational
message on March of last year when she spoke before a
joint session of Congress and declared: "Our dream has
the size of freedom."

In 2006, the citizens of the Democratic Republic of
Congo went to the polls for the first time in over 40
years, casting ballots in the hope of finally putting
behind them a legacy of brutal dictatorship and
violent conflict.

The elections, judged free and fair
by international observers, were a remarkable feat for
a country half the size of the United States, yet
virtually without paved roads. While there have been
setbacks since the elections, and significant work
remains to be done to help Congo through its
post-conflict democratic transition, the elections
demonstrated the strong desire of the Congolese people
to live in freedom.

Mauritania, too, held its first fully democratic
election in over 40 years in March of this year. The
newly elected government has stated its commitment to
enact democratic reforms and we are working to support
Mauritania as it makes its democratic transition.

Several of our key partners in the region, however,
have held disappointing elections.

In April, Nigeria--Africa's most populous nation, an
economic powerhouse, the seat of ECOWAS, and a
critical player in matters of peace and security on
the continent--squandered an important opportunity to
improve upon its flawed 2003 elections and live up to
its potential as a democratic leader for the region.
That Nigeria missed this opportunity is even more
disappointing considering the vibrancy of its civil
society, the influence of its active media, and the
strength of its legal system.

The elections took place under an ill-prepared and
partial electoral commission, and were marred by
reports of voter malfeasance and vote-rigging. In
certain areas of the country, polls opened either
after significant delay or did not open at all.

There were, however, several bright spots: the Supreme Court
reinstated an opposition candidate to the ballot only
5 days before the elections, and the former National
Assembly refused to go along with now former President
Obasanjo's attempt to secure a third term.

The United States has stressed to Nigerian leaders the
need for political reform and judicial transparency.
We also have encouraged Nigeria to expedite election
tribunals and to strengthen the independence and
capacity of the Independent National Electoral
Commission.

The run-up to Ethiopia's May 2005 elections was a time
of unprecedented democratic openness, with the ruling
party agreeing to a series of key electoral reforms,
and robust civil society engagement on matters of
voter education and mobilization.

However, the expulsion of the National Democratic Institute, the
International Republican Institute and the
International Foundation for Electoral Systems six
weeks before Election Day created an atmosphere heavy
with suspicion. The expulsions put a halt to valuable
training programs for members of civil society,
electoral commission staff and political party leaders
aimed at increasing confidence in the electoral
process.

Election Day was, for the most part, orderly and
peaceful. Yet, in the days and months following the
elections as rumors of malfeasance grew regarding the
election results, the Ethiopian government responded
to street protests with lethal force and illegally
detained opposition leaders and tens of thousands of
their supporters.

Among those detained was journalist Serkalem Fasil, the recipient of a Courage in
Journalism Award, who was arrested along with thirteen
other reporters after publishing articles critical of
the Ethiopian government. Fasil gave birth in jail to
a son, who was premature and underweight due to
inhumane conditions and lack of proper medical
attention. She was released from prison in April, but
is now threatened with re-arrest. If she is found
guilty on charges of treason, outrages against the
constitution and incitement to armed conspiracy, she
could face the death penalty.

Shortly after I arrived in DRL, I began receiving
letters from concerned Members of Congress and the
former colleagues of the jailed Ethiopian democracy
advocates and journalists, many of whom have had
distinguished careers here in the United States and
relatives who are United States citizens. Later, when
I traveled to Addis Ababa, I raised the issue with
Prime Minister Meles and met with the families of the
imprisoned.

The government has embraced some new reforms,
including revising parliamentary rules of procedure to
allow for an increased voice for the opposition. But
to this day, the crackdown casts a shadow over the
Ethiopian government, though Prime Minister Meles
announced yesterday that he plans to recommend
clemency for the opposition leaders found guilty on
June 11 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Let me now turn to the second essential element of
democracy: good governance and the rule of law.

Beyond a free and fair elections process, democracies
must have representative, accountable, transparent
institutions of government, including an independent
legislative body that can act to ensure that leaders
who win elections govern democratically once they are
in office. The rule of just law must prevail over
politics and personalities, and replace cultures of
corruption, which have undermined so many reform
efforts in Africa.

An important way we encourage and support good
governance in Africa is through the Millennium
Challenge Account initiative enacted by Congress in
2004.

The initiative is designed to embark on a new
approach to delivering foreign assistance. MCA is a
bold pro-growth strategy that aims to lift the most
people out of poverty as fast as possible.

The MCA reflects the new international consensus that a
growth-based approach to development assistance works
best and that countries which adopt good governance
policies and invest in their people are the most
likely to use their development assistance wisely and
reach their development goals.

Only countries that have adopted good governance
principles are eligible for MCA funding. Of the 12 MCA
compacts signed to date, 6 are with governments in
Sub-Saharan Africa, for a total of $2 billion in
assistance.

We have signed compacts with Benin, Cape
Verde, Ghana, Mali, Madagascar, and this past Friday,
Mozambique. Lesotho will sign its compact next week.
Tanzania, Morocco, Namibia and Burkina Faso will sign
compacts in the coming months, bringing another $2.6
billion to the continent to fight poverty.

Adequate funding from Congress for the Millennium Challenge
effort is critical so that we do not have to turn away
these countries after they have worked so hard to make
the reforms to qualify for Millennium Challenge
assistance and to put together great programs for the
fund to support.

Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and
Zambia currently have threshold agreements. All of
these governments have made democratic advances, but
they continue to be held back, due, in part, to
endemic corruption, which they are taking steps to
combat. For example, the Tanzanian parliament passed
sweeping anti-corruption legislation in April and
Zambia is prosecuting former president Chiluba on
corruption charges.

The Bush Administration also is supporting innovative
efforts to strengthen the rule of law across Africa.
For example, in 2004, President Bush allocated $55
million for the Women's Justice and Empowerment in
Africa Program. The program, which will operate in
Benin, Kenya, Zambia and South Africa, will train
police, judges, prosecutors, health officials and
others on women's rights with the goal of protecting
women from and punishing perpetrators of gender-based
violence. This program also will assist African
governments in developing laws that empower and
protect women.

Meeting the enormous challenge of ensuring accountable
government, establishing the rule of law and combating
corruption requires an unprecedented political
commitment from African leaders. It also requires the
active participation of the business sector and civil
society.

Multi-sector initiatives continue to show promise. The
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative,
launched in 2002 by the United Kingdom and formally
established in 2003 with more than twenty
participating governments and the endorsement of the
World Bank, is a good example of a private-public
anti-corruption effort. The initiative aims to
increase public information about revenues from
extractive industries such as petroleum to ensure that
these public resources are well spent on the most
serious needs of the populations.

A number of African countries have endorsed this effort and put the
initiative's best practices into effect, most notably
Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. Despite their
participation in the initiative, however, both Angola
and the Republic of Congo have cracked down on
activists working to ensure transparency in the oil
industry. In February, the Angolan government detained
a prominent British transparency advocate, Dr. Sarah
Wykes from the NGO Global Witness, and charged her
with violating national security.

She was held for three days before being released on bail, and
ultimately, allowed to depart the country. The
Republic of Congo continues to harass transparency
activists Christian Mounzeo and Brice Makosso.

I will now turn to the third essential element of
democracy: a vibrant civil society.

The worldwide push for greater personal and political
freedom is being felt in Africa. As this global trend
grows stronger, it is encountering increasing
resistance from those in power who feel threatened by
democratic change. 2006 was what I call the "Year of
the Push-back" and the phenomenon has continued into
2007.

Last December, on International Human Rights Day,
Secretary Rice created a Human Rights Defenders Fund,
which will be administered from my Bureau, to enable
the State Department to quickly disburse small grants
to human rights defenders facing extraordinary needs
as a result of government repression. The Secretary
also announced ten guiding principles regarding the
treatment of NGOs by governments. These core
principles are a handy resource for governments,
international organizations, civil society groups, and
journalists.

Regrettably, a growing number of countries, including
African countries, selectively apply laws and
regulations against NGOs and the media. They also
subject human rights and democracy defenders to
extrajudicial measures for peacefully exercising the
rights of expression, association and assembly.

In Zimbabwe, civil society--including NGOs, labor
unions and religious organizations--remain under heavy
siege. On March 11, opposition leaders and civil
society members, who had peacefully assembled for a
mass prayer meeting, were brutally attacked by
security forces. One political activist was shot dead;
others were kept from receiving critical medical care.


Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea have enacted burdensome
registration requirements and apply heavy-handed
oversight that make it all but impossible for NGOs to
exist. Slightly less burdensome requirements but
continued suspicion and harassment have greatly
restricted civil society in Ethiopia and Rwanda.

In some cases, most dramatically in Sudan, when
governments persecute NGOs what is at stake is not
just the preservation of liberties but the protection
of lives. Physical attacks on humanitarian aid
organizations in Darfur, and continued interference in
their work, have rendered their mission of alleviating
the suffering of internally displaced persons ever
more difficult.

Mr. Chairman, that brings me to the countries that
pose some of the greatest challenges we face in the
region--Sudan, Uganda, Somalia and Zimbabwe--and the
ways we are working in partnership with African
nations to deal with those challenges, and by so
doing, advance democracy and human rights.

In March, I traveled to Sudan to assess first-hand the
appalling situation in Darfur. Fear and anxiety
permeated the region. Not only were the internally
displaced people coping with continuing violence,
international aid workers also were subjected to an
unprecedented level of harassment and attacks. Vital
humanitarian assistance was being obstructed.

Yet, in the hell of Kalma Camp for internally
displaced persons, I also saw determination among its
inhabitants. A group of IDPs had organized themselves
into a legal aid society inside the camp. They endure
harassment and even assault to defend the rights of
their fellow displaced. In the sweltering heat, I sat
with my team and talked with these amazing people and
the fellow IDPs whom they are assisting.

I particularly remember one man who stood up and said,
"I'm 37 years-old and never knew what human rights
were until I came to this camp." He said that until he
learned about his rights from the legal aid society in
the camp, he assumed that it was normal for police to
arbitrarily harass, arrest and beat people. We saw the
same hunger for dignity and justice in a group of
women in South Darfur who were working to educate the
young and empower them to defend their rights. These
remarkable women shared more than determination. They
also shared the belief that, as one put it, "America
cares."

In the months since my trip to Darfur, the situation
has gotten even worse. Just to cite one alarming
indicator: since early May, due to the unabated
violence, the population of Al-Salam IDP Camp near
Nyala has doubled from 14,500 to 30,000.

It is critical that the African Union/United Nations
hybrid force be deployed without any further delay.
President Bashir again declared his commitment to
accept the force on June 11 during trilateral talks
with the AU and UN. Yet again, a new Security Council
resolution authorizing the force is being discussed in
New York. The United States is strongly committed to
getting that resolution passed. As Secretary Rice
recently noted, "We must not let the Government of
Sudan continue this game of cat and mouse diplomacy;
making promises, then going back on them. It is our
responsibility, as principled nations, as principled
democracies, to hold Sudan accountable."

Even as world attention focuses on the horrors of
Darfur, it is imperative that we continue to support
the implementation of the 2005 North-South
Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA. The peace
agreement stopped a war that had raged for over 20
years and resulted in the deaths of an estimated 2
million people. But stopping a war is not the same as
securing a peace.

Sudan's elections, mandated by the CPA and tentatively
planned for February 2009, are a crucial element of
the peace process. They will be a key indicator as to
whether the country will truly be able to put the
civil war behind it and fulfill the late Dr. John
Garang's vision of a united, peaceful nation. The
international community must not lose sight of this
pivotal election and must stay engaged in the run-up
to it.

Meanwhile, the continuing crisis in Darfur threatens
to destabilize Sudan's neighbors. Chad, which has its
own challenges, hosts approximately 235,000 Sudanese
refugees as well as 50,000 refugees fleeing conflict
in the Central African Republic. One hundred eighty
thousand Chadians displaced by insecurity from Chadian
rebels and cross-border Janjaweit militia attacks from
Sudan compound the problem, creating still more
conditions for unrest. One bright spot in this bleak
picture are the prospects for peace in Uganda. For
years, the Lord's Resistance Army rebels found a
hiding place in south Sudan while it terrorized
northern Uganda. Today, the Government of Southern
Sudan is an active player in the Juba-based
negotiations for peace in Uganda.

The African-led mediation process in Juba has made
progress in addressing the brutal 20-year conflict in
Uganda. The key mediator--Government of Southern Sudan
Vice-President Riak Machar and Special Envoy of the UN
Secretary General, former Mozambican President Joachim
Chissano--are deeply engaged in the process, and have
recently added observers from other African countries
and the United States to the talks. Over the past
year, thousands of internally displaced persons have
been able to leave the camps in northern Uganda and
vital commercial corridors in Sudan and northern
Uganda have reopened. The United States, through USAID
and the State Department's Bureau of Population,
Refugees and Migration, conducts a robust program of
humanitarian assistance in northern Uganda.

In Somalia, a country that has seen more than its
share of bloodshed during the past 15 years of civil
war, there is some cause for hope--provided the
Somalis take advantage of the window of opportunity
created by the reestablishment of the Transitional
Federal Government with the support of the
international community. Somalia does not have the
luxury of time. The Transitional Federal Government
opened a National Reconciliation Congress on July 15
and recessed to allow time to finalize logistical
arrangements, such as the issuance of identification
badges for Congress delegates and to allow time for
additional delegates to arrive in Mogadishu. The
United States agreed to provide $2.25 million towards
reconciliation through the United Nations Development
Program, of which $1.25 million already has been
provided and has been used mainly to support the
National Reconcilation Congress. The United States
remains the leading donor of humanitarian aid to
Somalia and has already committed over $40 million for
development, humanitarian, and peacekeeping support
this year.

In Zimbabwe, it is clear that President Mugabe intends
to do whatever it takes to get re-elected. The run-up
to the 2008 presidential elections will be a critical
time for democratic nations in Africa to take a strong
stand for democracy in the region. After the brutal
attacks in March that I mentioned earlier, the United
States assisted those working for the release of
detainees and to secure medical treatment for the
injured. Our Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell,
made his presence felt at police stations and at the
courthouse to demonstrate our concern for those being
held. The international attention that we helped to
focus on the beatings and detentions helped to secure
the early release of the detainees.

We also have condemned the Government of Zimbabwe's
violent suppression of a peaceful demonstration on
June 6 in Bulawayo by Women of Zimbabwe Arise!
(WOZA!). Police used batons against some 200
demonstrators, detaining seven activists. Among those
detained was WOZA! National Coordinator Jenni
Williams, the recipient of Secretary Rice's 2007
International Women of Courage Award for Africa, and
denying them access to their lawyers.

This latest aggression against civil society, coming
on the heels of attacks this spring, highlights the
need for dialogue among all stakeholders concerned
with halting Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
The active engagement of Zimbabwe's democratic
neighbors will be key to bringing the government and
the opposition together to find a way forward for the
country. The Southern African Development Community
has mandated South African President Thabo Mbeki to
mediate negotiations between the Government of
Zimbabwe and the opposition. In late June, the
government and the opposition agreed on an agenda for
the negotiations that included constitutional and
electoral reforms, security legislation and rules of
political engagement. This is a good step. But, given
the behavior of President Mugabe, we dare not allow
ourselves to think that the road ahead will soon or
easily lead to stability, prosperity and liberty for
the people of Zimbabwe.

Strengthening Regional Architecture

Dealing with the complex challenges that these
strife-riven countries present requires the energetic
engagement of neighboring African nations and of
Africa's regional institutions, as well as the support
of the United States and the broader international
community. We have made it a priority to intensify our
relationships with Africa's regional organizations,
and with the African Union in particular on matters of
human rights and democracy.

In late 2006, the United States established a
bilateral mission to the AU - the first of its kind
where an AU observer state has had a separate mission
dedicated solely to the AU.

The AU architecture is still evolving, but it is
promising. The AU's 53 member states have committed
themselves to an agenda for advancing democracy and
human rights, and they are developing bodies and
mechanisms to move that agenda forward, including:

a Peace and Security Commission, similar to the UN
Security Council, which approves the scope and duties
of AU peace support operations;
the adoption in 2003 of the African Protocol on the
Rights of Women;
the adoption this January of the African Charter on
Democracy, Elections and Governance, enshrining
commitments to political pluralism, free and fair
elections, the rule of law and good governance; and
the creation of an African Court on Human and Peoples'
Rights to uphold the provisions of the Democracy
Charter. The Court will work in coordination with the
AU's existing Commission on Human and People's Rights.
It is very much in our interest, and in the interest
of other democracies, to help strengthen the capacity
of these AU bodies and mechanisms.

To that end, Mr. Chairman, in March I hosted five
members of the African Commission on Human and
Peoples' Rights. We discussed the importance of
engaging with civil society and of addressing urgent
human rights concerns. We also agreed to increase our
collaboration.

Later that month, I traveled to Addis Ababa and met
with the AU Commissioners for political affairs, peace
and security, and women and gender development. I
discussed a range of issues from democratization and
the need for a vibrant civil society to the UN/AU
hybrid force in Sudan. I also planted the seeds for
formal human rights and democracy consultations with
AU. In the fall, DRL will host the first such
consultations. We will share experiences, define new
strategies for partnership and encourage the forging
of relationships between the AU and civil society. We
also will identify concrete ways to assist the African
Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, the fledgling
Court, and a new AU Elections Observation Unit. The
Unit's creation is particularly timely in light of the
upcoming elections in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and
Sudan. USAID already has a $1 million program with
IFES to support the creation of the Unit.

In May, I met with eight impressive justices from the
nascent Court, who also serve on the bench in their
native countries. They are working pro bono to draft
the rules and regulations governing the Court's
operations and get it up and running. By the end of
the year, their hard work should reach fruition and
provide an additional layer of protection for the
people of Africa.

Just last week here in Washington, the Organization of
American States, the State Department and the African
Union held the first ever OAS/AU Democracy Bridge
Forum, an event that was sponsored by the State
Department. Experts from the AU and OAS, and NGOs from
Africa and the Americas exchanged their experiences
building regional democratic institutions, planned
further cooperation, and established institutional
linkages.

Mr. Chairman, clearly there is a lot of work to be
done--first and foremost by African democracies--to
fully develop the AU and other regional organizations.
The goal is not to build elaborate architecture, but
to build effective institutions that help lock in
democratic gains and play real roles in protecting the
rights and improving the lives of the people of
Africa. As Secretary Rice said last week to the
Chairperson of the AU and former President of Mali,
Alpha Konare, the United States is committed to
strengthening the AU, and we look forward to enhancing
our partnership.

DRL Democracy Assistance

Mr. Chairman, before I conclude, let me briefly
respond to your request to hear about the human rights
and democracy assistance programs that my Bureau is
funding.

DRL has significantly raised its level of programming
assistance for Sub-Saharan Africa as a result of
Congressionally-mandated funding for the Human Rights
and Democracy Fund, or HRDF. HRDF is what I call the
venture capital of democracy programming. DRL uses it
for cutting-edge innovative programming that upholds
democratic principles, supports democratic
institutions, promotes human rights and builds civil
society in critical countries and regions. We use this
fund for pilot projects that will have an immediate
impact but that have potential for continued funding
beyond HRDF resources. DRL coordinates closely with
the Bureau of African Affairs, other State Department
bureaus, USAID, and our NGO partners to ensure that
our HRDF programs support overall United States
foreign policy objectives in the region and are not
duplicative.

When I arrived in the fall of 2005, DRL had a little
more than $3 million in HRDF for programming in
Sub-Saharan Africa. With Congressional support, we
tripled the level of DRL assistance to nearly $10
million and have expanded our programmatic reach to
critical countries like Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and
Burundi.

We are proud of our small, but growing Africa programs
portfolio. I will highlight two which I believe have
had a positive impact on human rights:

My Bureau awarded $1.5 million in HRDF to an NGO to
establish women's centers that focus on gender-based
violence in nine IDP camps throughout Darfur. The NGO
estimates that we have reached tens of thousands of
women through these centers, providing a range of
services from medical and psychological support to
literacy and basic income generation skills. The grant
also has helped fund a global Gender-based Violence
Coordinator which has enabled this NGO to conduct
rapid assessments of gender-based violence in emerging
conflict situations in Chad, Lebanon, Colombia, Nepal
and the northern Caucasus.

DRL also funded a program to collect scientific
evidence of human rights abuses committed during the
civil war in Sierra Leone. The more than 3,600
statements from witnesses that were collected should
prove useful to the country's Truth and Reconciliation
Commission.

With 2007 funds, we will program approximately $10
million for Sub-Saharan Africa. And we have ongoing
FY06 programs that are supporting post-election
dialogue in Ethiopia, building the capacity of the
judiciary in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
combating gender-based violence in Ethiopia and Sudan,
fighting corruption in Cote d'Ivoire and Burundi, and
strengthening civil society efforts in Zimbabwe.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, let me just say that no
matter who succeeds me as Assistant Secretary, and no
matter what Administration follows the current one,
the United States must continue to respond to the
pressing demands of Africans for dignity and liberty.
We must continue to work in partnership with the
governments and peoples of Africa to build a continent
of hope and freedom, for their sake, and for the sake
of a safer, better world for us all.

And now I would be happy to try to answer your
questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment